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Melania Trump removes mask to read to young patients at hospital

First lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpJill Biden, Kate Middleton visit school together in first meeting Jill Biden wears 'LOVE' jacket 'to bring unity' to meeting with Boris Johnson White House gets back to pre-COVID-19 normality MORE took off her mask on Tuesday to read to children at the Children's National Hospital, where hospital policy requires visitors to wear a face covering though officials noted she sat away from others.

The first lady has visited the hospital every year during her time in the White House, according to CNN.

Trump entered the hospital wearing a mask, but took it off after sitting in front of the Christmas tree while practicing social distancing, according to the news outlet. 

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The hospital’s policy states, “Everyone must wear a mask at all times while in any Children's National facility to prevent the spread of COVID-19."

A hospital spokesperson noted to CNN, "Under D.C. health regulations, wearing a mask is not required when a person is giving a speech for broadcast or an audience, provided no one is within six feet of the speaker."

She added, "[Trump] was more than 12 feet away from others in our large atrium. All other people in that space were wearing masks."

The first lady's office maintained in a statement Tuesday evening that the visit "followed the hospital’s mask protocols for public speakers, based on the District of Columbia health guidance."

"Throughout the holiday program, the First Lady was more than twelve feet away from others in the four-story atrium," it said, adding the visit was "broadcast to 325 inpatient hospital rooms."

Upon arriving at the hospital Trump said, "It is wonderful to be here. This is one of my favorite events during the holiday time and I'm very excited and looking forward to reading a book."

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"I'm thinking of you all. Stay strong and well and Merry Christmas and happy holidays," she said.

 

Most children attended the reading virtually, but Trump did arrive to the hospital with two children who sat in front of her while she read. She read "Oliver the Ornament Meets Marley & Joan and Abbey" by Todd Zimmerman.

She did not put her mask back on as she left the hospital.

Trump contracted the coronavirus early in October, when her husband, President TrumpDonald TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat MORE, and her son Barron were both diagnosed with the disease.

The first lady has likely developed coronavirus antibodies, though health experts are unsure how long this immunity lasts. Even after infection, health experts recommend wearing a mask.

Early in December, the White House confirmed that it would still be holding holiday parties despite surging rates of coronavirus cases around the country. The White House has reportedly planned at least 25 parties this year with each event hosting around 50 guests.

In Washington, D.C., holiday gatherings are currently capped at 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, though these rules do not apply to the White House.

According to the most recent data, D.C. is currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases with a 7-day average of 245 cases per day.

– This article was updated at 8 p.m. to include additional information about the visit and the White House statement 

CORRECTION: First lady Melania Trump did not break hospital rules in taking off her mask. An original version of this story based on CNN's report included incorrect information.